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UPDATE: The search for a 22-year-old man who disappeared at Redgate Beach while trying to rescue a stricken mate has been suspended due to bad weather.

Police are continuing to monitor the sea but have no plans for further search operations at this time.

Shattered family and friends of Kane Nelson comforted each other yesterday as they scanned the sea where Mr Nelson disappeared two days earlier.

Rescuers have found no sign of the young Nedlands man - whose American friend Ian Vincent drowned - despite intensive efforts.

But they still hope to recover his body for his heart-broken family

A police spokeswoman said the rescue effort was flexible and authorities were working around weather conditions.

A helicopter is providing air support and jet skis and two boats are conducting a sea search.

Mr Nelson vanished on Saturday when he and his girlfriend's father dived back into rough seas to help Dr Vincent, 29, after they were caught in a rip and pounded by waves as they fought their way to shore.

The trio had been bodyboarding at Redgate in conditions that locals described as treacherous. They were not wearing flippers or wetsuits.

Mr Nelson and the 56-year-old, who is also Dr Vincent's uncle, had made it to safety once. But only the elder man made it back alive a second time, after they were hit by waves while trying desperately to help Dr Vincent.

Dr Vincent was in Perth visiting relatives after a stint volunteering in South-East Asia.

Mr Nelson's girlfriend Heather Bradley could not hold back her tears yesterday as she mourned her boyfriend and American cousin at the popular beach south of Margaret River and reflected on her father's narrow escape.

She had earlier written a tribute to her boyfriend on Facebook, posting: "I see you in my dreams Kane, just as beautiful and majestic as you ever were. I love you with all my heart."

Mr Nelson's cousin Sean described him as a genuine bloke who had a heart of gold.

"It sickens me that such terrible things happen to people who just don't deserve it," he posted on Facebook.

Redgate beach is popular with families, surfers and fishermen but is notorious for its rips. Many locals considered the conditions on Saturday too dangerous to enter the water.

Experienced surfer Phil O'Brien checked the surf at 7am but went home because the rips and position of the breaking waves made it treacherous.

He said more warning signs were needed to alert visitors.

Margaret River man Michael Wise also believes more danger signs could help, although he had been told one sign had been found smashed by vandals in recent days.